Adrian Hernandez Farina joined Peckham’s Coal Rooms as Head Chef at the end of last year (after working at the likes of Hawksmoor, Temper, Breddos Tacos and Smokestak) but lockdown meant there wasn’t much of chance to check out his food. Now the restaurant is back with more spaced out tables and a brand new chef’s tasting menu that makes good use of Coal Rooms’ bespoke charcoal grill and oven.
The five course menu starts with bread served with dulse butter, chicken liver mousse and mackerel pate – one plate between two would be enough but they give you two rolls per person, so you know this is the kind of place you’ll be well fed. It’s swiftly followed by a pork cheek croquette, which comes on a spicy lacto-fermented red pepper sauce and covered with a blanket of parmesan.
The first of two small fish courses is sea bass tartare with fig oil and jalapeno granita; it’s cold, sharp, fresh and it’s a great palate cleanser before you move onto the main. You get a choice between two dishes here; barbecued monkfish with brown butter dashi and fermented gooseberries or 28-day-aged ex-dairy Sussex sirloin with mushroom XO, celeriac and charred onion. We went for the latter and were not disappointed, with velvet smooth celeriac puree and a real hit of savouriness from the XO sauce.
The other fish course is a crispy coated langoustine lollipop with guanciale and lobster mayo. It’s basically like a posh piece of scampi and it’s icnredibly moreish – a load of those and with a cold glass of wine and you’d be very happy indeed.
Dessert is where things get really interesting. It’s a torched marshmallow topped with lacto-fermented apricot and parmesan granita. Yes ice cold cheese. The marshmallow itself is sweet but the other ingredients add real savoury notes, and the burnt parts of the mallow taste the charred bits you get on a pizza crust. The staff have said they’ve had a 50/50 response to it; we were firmly in the yes camp.
Not only is the food at Coal Rooms good value for the quality of the food (£48 for the meat and £38 for the veggie tasting menu) there’s just such a great vibe in the restaurant – if you’ve felt hesitant about eating out again, this place will remind you why it’s worth it.
11a Station Way, London SE15 4RX